LEEK men’s first team squad completed their 2013/14 pre-season preparation with a trip to Essex to play in a prestigious tournament of selected national league clubs.
Old Loughtonians Hockey club was the venue used as part of the London Olympic preparation last year.
Leek took a squad of 18 players, with several new first team signings looking to gain some valuable pitch time.
They included two German players, Tobi Muller and Oli Bernhardi.
Leek’s first game was played against host squad Old Loughts, a strong East Conference side.
Muller and Ed Stanhope looked to have already struck up a profitable partnership up front.
In the eighth minute, Ben White and Muller linked well, with the German forward dropping the ball back for Stanhope to open the scoring.
Old Loughts looked stunned but bounced back to score an equaliser slightly against the run of play, when they pounced on a mistake.
Leek’s other debut players – Richard Parker, Josh Sherwani and Oli Bernhardi – all got on and helped to maintain the tempo and good start.
Leek are carrying more of a threat at penalty corners this year and Ben White showed his good form when he put away his drag flick.
Unfortunately, the further goals that Leek’s play deserved didn’t come and this left the back door open for the home side to steal in.
Leek’s captain made two excellent saves, but the second was not cleared by his defence, leaving Loughts with a simple back post tap-in to bring the scores level.
The second game of the day saw Leek face Indian Gymkhana, a lively opposition who Leek have not played for some 10 years.
The Indian side have plenty of skilful forwards and their game plan was direct. Leek conceded two goals from these routines.
Leek made ongoing repairs to the style of play and with subs coming on and making a difference, James Gough got on the score sheet with a well-placed deflection.
The whole second half was a different game, with Leek dictating the play. The faster tempo and quicker passing was now in full evidence.
This upset the opposition who resorted to a more aggressive style of play in an attempt to disrupt this play.
Paul Dawson hit back for Leek, scoring well from close range whilst under extreme pressure.
Ben White added two further goals and took the game beyond the opposition.
Leek’s first League fixture is away at newly-promoted Deeside.